Ardoyne riot provokes controversy over Parades Commission

Serious disturbances in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast yesterday have left 25 police officers injured and politicians calling into question the role and effectiveness of the Parades Commission.

The disturbances followed a return Orange Lodge parade past shops in the pre-dominantly nationalist Ardoyne. Army personnel were also injured during the rioting, and a water cannon was eventually used to disperse the crowd.

Controversially, the PSNI allowed parade followers to move past the area some time after the parade itself, despite a Parades Commission ruling that only the Lodges themselves should be allowed past.

Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Gerry Kelly maintains that the actions of the PSNI have effectively rendered the Parades Commission defunct.

Mr Kelly said: "Tonight the PSNI with the support of the British government forced both the Orange Order and senior UDA members through nationalist north Belfast. This was in direct breach of the Parades Commission determination. It has put the parading issue back years as it has effectively handed control of contentious parades back into the hands of the PSNI.

"Having forced the parade through Ardoyne, the PSNI along with the paratroop regiment, then attacked local people. A number of people including myself who were trying to maintain calm were attacked and assaulted by baton wielding PSNI thugs. No action was taken to move on the loyalist crowd or respond to attacks on the Ardoyne community from Twaddell Avenue.

"I have spoken this evening to [NIO Minister] Ian Pearson by telephone and I informed him that he along with the PSNI ultimately has to bear the responsibility for what happened in Ardoyne this evening. Those of us still on the ground will continue to do our best to maintain calm but I have to say that the anger within the nationalist community in north Belfast this evening is palpable."

Police maintain that they acted fully within the law and with a view to protecting the human rights of both communities, and have, despite the violence, praised the work of community leaders in making this year’s Twelfth comparatively peaceful.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said: "A lot of work was undertaken by representatives of local groups and communities on the ground before today's parades. Quite clearly much of that work has paid dividends.

"The parades and protests in the main have been orderly, peaceful and well marshalled.

"We attended an incident in north Belfast, after the parade had passed the Ardoyne shopfronts, when youths attacked police and military vehicles with missiles. Police responded appropriately and proportionally. I am appealing for calm in the area and would appeal to all community representatives to continue to use their influence to bring this about.”

Reiterating the PSNI position that such disputes must be solved by communities rather police, ACC McClausland added: "This incident demonstrates that there is no policing solution to such issues. Communities need to engage in dialogue to come up with acceptable solutions and prevent such scenes from occurring again.

"That all other parades and protests have so far been peaceful is a reflection of the great efforts made by members of both communities to reduce tension and maintain calm.

"We believe the overall police operation involving all parades today has been a success. It was planned on the basis of widespread engagement with interested bodies and individuals in communities across Belfast and beyond.

“Any physical measures employed were not kept in place for a minute longer than was necessary.

"As we go forward from today it is incumbent on all groups and communities to redouble their efforts to engage in dialogue to resolve the underlying issues."


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

29 November 2018
Government 'Must Fund Extra Officers To Police Irish Border Post Brexit'
The UK Government must give police financial assurances that they will have the resources to patrol the Irish border in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) has said.
04 December 2018
Public Urged To Be Cautious Of Christmas Burglaries
In the run up to Christmas, the PSNI have appealed to homeowners to take steps to protect their property and reduce their risk of being a victim of crime. The public have also been urged to look out for more vulnerable neighbours and relatives during the festive period.
28 November 2018
Police Appeal After L'Derry Cenotaph Wreaths Destroyed
The PSNI are appealing for information after remembrance wreaths at the Cenotaph in L'Derry were vandalised. It is believed the memorial was defaced in the early hours of Sunday 25 November, at around 2am.
04 December 2018
Man Arrested After Pedestrians Knocked Down In Belfast
A 37-year-old man has been arrested after two pedestrians were knocked down by a car that mounted the pavement in north Belfast. The car also crashed into another parked vehicle in the incident that occurred in the Brookvale Avenue area shortly after 7pm on Monday 03 December.
14 October 2011
Summer Of Post Parade Violence Cost £5.7m
Sectarian rioting is costing the economy dearly with news this morning that the cost of policing parades and associated public disorder during the period from April to the end of August was a huge £5.7m.
11 July 2002
SF to meet Parades Commission over Twelfth parades
A meeting is to take place between Sinn Fein and the Parades Commission over a number of controversial Orange Order parades that are to take place in north Belfast on July 12. A delegation from the party is to meet the commission on Thursday morning with regard to parades along the Springfield Road and Crumlin Road planned for Friday.
26 January 2011
Baggott Agrees Illegal Parading Meeting
There's to be a showdown over the way in which the PSNI has been allowing illegal republican parades to take place - while at the same time cracking down on Loyal Order events to make sure they follow the letter of the law under Parading legislation.
24 January 2011
Police 'Allowed Illegal Republican Parade'
Members of the leading loyal order are said to be frustrated over an illegal march in Co Armagh yesterday and news of 'zero' prosecutions or cautions for those participating in any such illegal parades. The Orange Order described this as a "major shift" in policy, which they said, is causing huge frustration among law-abiding Orangemen.
20 December 2010
Orange Tint To Parades Commission
A former senior Orangeman who disagreed with the loyal order's leadership has been appointed to the contentious Parades Commission in Northern Ireland. Reverend Brian Kennaway will be part of a new commission appointed by the Northern Ireland Office, which will begin operating early next month.
24 June 2009
Ministers Square Up Over Parades Issue
In spite of working closely together on such issues as their joint condemnation of recent racist attacks, the First and Deputy First Ministers were this week at loggerheads over loyal order parades. First Minister Peter Robinson hit out at comments by his Executive colleague, the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
04 January 2002
Parades Commissioner urges NI to seize opportunities of 2002
The Chairman of the Parades Commission has said that the year ahead provides the best opportunity for the people of Northern Ireland to come together to finally heal the running sore of contentious parades.
02 August 2010
Adams Meets Loyalist Parades Group
There's to be a 'groundbreaking' cross community meeting over parades today. Gerry Adams is to meet the North and West Belfast Parades Forum along with Gerry Kelly, the North Belfast Sinn Fein MLA and Stormont Junior Minister as well as other party colleagues.
07 August 2015
Parades Need 'Even Handed And Consistent' Policing
The policing of parades and protests this weekend should be "even handed and consistent", Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly has said. Mr Kelly met senior PSNI officers to discuss the policing of parades and protests due to be held this weekend.
28 June 2004
SF hit out at DUP Forum participation
Sinn Féin's Pat Doherty has hit out at the DUP for sitting down on a West Belfast Parades Forum which allegedly includes members of paramilitary organisations. The West Tyrone MP said that the readiness of the DUP to sit alongside members of the UDA and UVF on the Forum showed the" sickening hypocrisy" of Ian Paisley's party.
12 October 2018
PSNI Responds To Threat On Catholic Police Officers
The PSNI has branded a dissident republican group "drug dealers," in response to threats that Catholic police officers will "never be safe". It was revealed earlier this week, amid a police recruitment campaign, that officers are not sent to work in their home communities due to the threat from dissident republican terrorists.